Some say DC Comics is overexposing Harley Quinn by putting her in too many titles/giving her too many specials, like some female analogue of Deadpool. (Well… they are similar when you think about it.)
But you know what? So far, all of these specials have been pretty fun so why not keep the good times rolling? As such, here comes the new Valentine’s Day special, promising a confrontation and meet up with Batman of all people. Is it good?
Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special #1 (DC Comics)
A special charity auction is taking place (proceeds go towards a brand new animal shelter) and the winner gets billionaire Bruce Wayne for a dinner date. Harley Quinn wants in on this action, since she finds Bruce quite attractive and thinks he has a heart of gold for his actions to boot. However, she needs some cash quickly, otherwise she’ll be easily outbid in the event. Meanwhile, two fish-themed villains are also trying to scrounge up some cash. ::cue dramatic music::
Of all the Harley Quinn specials we have had so far, this would probably be the weakest of the bunch. Not that it was bad by any means, but it wasn’t up to par with the previous ones. I think the problem with this issue was that the story didn’t have as strong of a focus as it could have and that it really didn’t explore the potential of a Harley Quinn/Bruce Wayne/Batman team-up. I mean, the entire date and time the two spent together was barely a fourth of the book. We honestly didn’t need to see Harley stealing the money she got, the fish villains, or seeing Harley hitch a ride on a ferry since those scenes really weren’t all that funny.
Yabba dabba do me? Fred Flintstone is rolling over in his footmobile right now.
As for the time the book does focus on Harley trying to win the date/when she spends time with Bruce — they’re easily the best and funniest scenes of the book. The interaction between the two was great, their dream sequences were funny and ridiculous in the best of ways, and the ending was gratifying. The narrative was strongest when it was focusing on the main event, but at its weakest when it wasn’t. Hopefully any future specials or issues of the series in general can keep their focus a bit better.
The writing by Harley Quinn mainstays Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner is still solid overall. The pacing, story flow, and structure are fine (other than some of the scenes and subplots not being all that effective), the characterization is well-done and the two writers do a good enough job at capturing the character of Batman in this book (though I think he would have noticed Harley strangling the woman in front of him). Harley herself is still a load of fun and zany in all the right ways, bringing in plenty of good jokes and gags throughout. I even appreciated the more self-aware sense of humor the comic had with the dream sequences and guest stars. Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special is still a good effort and I do look forward to seeing more adventures with her — it’s just the book didn’t hit as hard as it usually does.
The artwork is split between four artists; John Timms does the artwork for everything that isn’t a dream sequence (with one exception) and as before, his work is great. It always looks very appealing, very cartoony and full of the type of energy that fits the tone of Harley and her series just right. Ben Caldwell does the Harley dream sequences and honestly, his work isn’t my taste at all; although it fits the tone of the book and the dream sequences — it’s just not my cup of tea. Then there is Aaron Campbell, whose work is solid here, but just doesn’t fit the bright cheerful tone of this one-shot at all. It’s too dark and gritty looking in areas. Finally and most strangely, we have Tony Silas, who does three pages of the book where Harley Quinn robs someone. It looks fine and works nicely alongside Timms’ style, but I don’t get why he was needed for the book. It feels out of place, especially since we’ve seen how the guest artists have usually been handled well in these books.
Is It Good?
Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special #1 is good, but not as great as previous one-shots that Harley’s had in the past. It features plenty of humor and great moments, but just as many scenes or characters that are really not necessary/nor add any real good bits to the book. Oh well, it’s still worth a look and your time, but it’s not on par with the Comic-Con or Annual issue from the past.